The magic that happens – the race fairies you never really see


I love the King Island race, having done it many times on my own and on friends boats.  Gee it’s a lot of work to get the boat to a start line isn’t it ?  Provisioning, fuel, safety gear, audits, repairs, compliance paperwork, crew details.  How good is it to start a race and better still to finish one.  Arriving at King Island you pick up a mooring, get picked up by the inflatable, head to the bar for a drink, grab a steak then stand around the fire chatting till all hours and listen to the band.  You hang around for presso and then head home.

This year, helping out as part of the ORCV Race Management team what a different perspective I got.  I still love the race, love the people involved but wow what an eye opener.

Several months ago it all started – the meetings, the race documents, the marketing and compliance stuff.  Letters to authorities, formal approval, liaising with Port of Melbourne, organising the Coast Guard for the start and of course Kordia for the scheds.  Watching the office chase up boats and crew for paperwork, book flights and accommodation, arrange to borrow equipment, shipping of trophies and flags to King Island.  And then there is the organisation of volunteers – at least four for Race Directors, a couple for media, four more for incident management and a doctor on call of course.

And then a week out it all starts hotting up.  Trackers get set up and placed on each of the 20 or so boats.  The Race Director team meet up, to discuss each entrant (risk assessment), go over last minute plans.  The finishing team head off to the airport, the start team split, one to monitor the line on the Coast Guard boat heads to Queenscliff while the other heads to Cape Schanck to monitor the sign on sched.  The media team prepare the boat bios and prepare the background content.  

Meanwhile King Island yacht club have spent several months too, applying for their special all night liquor licence, ordering vast amounts of food and drinks, organising volunteers (who roster on all night cooking food), arrange the local trophies, arrange a vehicle and equipment for the finish line and start on the working bees to spruce up the club house.  They run around town putting up flyers and letting people know the event is on too including the mayor who is booked for presentation.  They organise the cool store container (thanks to King Island Dairy for that).  They organise to use the moorings and organise inflatables as well as boat crews (who roster on all night too).  They pick us up at the airport, billet us in their homes and made us very welcome.  Meanwhile we give them a hand unloading supplies and getting things ready at the club, realising just how much they have to purchase.  

IMG 2190

There are fires to light, computers and PA to set up, the band gear to prepare, cheeses to bag up, steaks to cut, last minute deliveries and phone calls of course.  Meanwhile life goes on, especially work and home life.  They have farms to tend, patients to see, homes and families to tend to – all this with the reality they will get no sleep the coming night.

You have seen the local volunteers behind the kitchen and behind the bar, always smiling and always ready to say hello.  You probably don’t think of them as local mums and dads, pub owners, farm owners, local business people, council.  You probably don’t notice the ORCV finish team recording results, doing the radio scheds, writing the web articles, messaging family and supporters, taking calls from interested parties and generally playing mother hen, watching over the fleet.  Boats come in, drinks get poured as they juggle mingling and chatting while taking photos and posting articles.  Fortunately the yachties are relatively well behaved so there is no drama there.  We chase up finishing declarations, hope for no protests and try to wrap up the formal results recording.  Before long there is a presentation to prepare, with trophies, results to check, articles to write.

Inevitably the boats leave and the clean up begins, you can imagine what that is like for tired locals and ORCV volunteers.  Some local volunteers we find out are also volunteering for a running race event on the Sunday too !!  Others volunteer to run some yachties to the airport too in their own car.  The ORCV team can almost relax, but still keep an eye on boats on the trip home, its not over yet.  There is more to do in the next couple of days too, debriefs and lessons learnt.

Chatting over dinner the night before the race with the Commodore of the King Island Yacht Club we get a real insight into how important the event is for the King Island Yacht club, its their major fundraiser for the year and they are very proud of “their” race.  They are a valued partner of the ORCV and a much appreciated group of people who give their time generously for you and your race.  They are a dwindling group of volunteers and are not getting any younger.  

Next time the urge comes from an impatient skipper or crew to spin around at the finish line of a race, we hope you remember the race fairies and come in for at least an hour or two and let them know how much you value what they do.

For some great interviews with King Island Yacht Club, click on:

Commodore Duncan Porter

Volunteer Kim Hill

Dinghy racer Johnson now ocean racing convert By Tracey Johnstone
13 March 2019   YOUTH dinghy sailor tuned keelboat racer Sarah Johnson has had her first taste of ocean racing and she is hooked. The Mooloolaba Yacht Club member competed in last weekend’s Bass Strait dash from Melbourne to King Island on the Melbourne yacht Faster Forward. “It was amazing," Johnson, 19, said. "I'm addicted. I would love to do more. I want to do the Sydney to Hobart this year, or next." Beside her was fellow club member and regular Faster Forward crew member Karen Young. “Sarah’s fresh-faced  [ ... ]

Arcadia safe and sound

Arcadia safe and sound At approximately 1.45pm on the 10th March 2019 while on the return trip from the King Island race Arcadia with 8 POB hit the Chancellor reef. One crew member was injured on impact but fortunately his injuries weren’t serious. The boat was taking on a small amount of water as a result of the impact so the skipper made the prudent decision to return to Grassy, the nearest safe harbour where medical assistance could be sought and the damage assessed. The ORCV Race Director activated the incident management team (even after the race was over) and started communications [ ... ]


2019 King Island race - Less is More - Results The premier measurement handicap division, being the most populous, is AMS and first place has gone to UNDER CAPRICORN followed by VERTIGO and MAVERICK.  It’s interesting to note that UNDER CAPRICORN was sailing in the new 4+ autohelm category and MAVERICK was a double handed entry which goes to show sometimes less can be more.  A special mention to Tim Olding picking up a second on VERTIGO’S first ocean racing venture, he’ll have to keep coming back now.   In the IRC division MAVERICK has picked up first place followed [ ... ]

2019 King Island Race Update - Race within a Race

2019 King Island Race Update - Race within a Race Shortly after our morning race update Huey did the right thing and bent the wind back to the East meaning that by 9:30 everyone was back on course for Grassy harbour.  Those watching the tracker will have noticed a mysterious green line appear on their screens…that’s the race within the race with the major (and only) prize being a slab of beer for the first boat to cross the latitude of Cape Wickham on their corrected PHD handicap.  Of the six boats to have crossed the imaginary finish line Cartouche is comfortably in the lead al [ ... ]

2019 King Island race got off to a clean start

2019 King Island race got off to a clean start The 2019 Melbourne to King Island race got off to a clean start at 11pm last night although Escapade was a little late to the action and didn’t clear the line until approximately 2310.  With the wind coming from the east the fleet headed straight down the rhumb line in good reaching conditions.  By 3:00am those yachts who had veered to the west of the rhumb line began making their way to the east in anticipation of the south easterly breeze forecast for Saturday morning which is expected to reach up to 20 knots in Northern Bass Strait [ ... ]


2019 King Island Race Update Listen to the ORCV Commodore Martin Vaughan update on the years Race   Weather Update

King Island Race - Divisions and the Cape Wickham Slab

King Island Race - Divisions, Fun and the Commodore's Cape Wickham Slab  Even though we have a number of late withdrawals, the fleet is still 22 yachts and ranges from Micel Calhane's North Shore 38 to Hugh Ellis's Reichel Pugh's 63 ....... a 65% rating difference.  To keep handicap ranges within reasonable levels, we have introduced additional divisions in Unrestricted Monohull event. There will still be a Combined Division Result which will be used for the major trophies and for scoring the Offshore Championship. In order to keep the competition as tight as possible the divisio [ ... ]


YACHT RACING OUTSIDE THE BAY - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED First of all I am a newcomer to ocean racing and I would like to share my experience having completed our first ORCV race - Melb to Devonport. Having sailed all my life I only progressed to owning my first “real” boat;  a Hanse 445 (B455 Mersea) about 3 years ago. The learning curve was rather steep in the first year or two. As expected I know I will never stop growing in experience and with it the confidence of being able to handle the boat in varying conditions. After buying the boat I immediately enrolled on the ORCV Beyond the  [ ... ]

Entries open for 2019 King Island yacht race

Entries open for 2019 King Island yacht race Entries are open for the 2019 Melbourne to King Island Yacht race.  Starting 11pm on Friday 8th March 2019 it is a great way to spend the Labour day long weekend sailing with friends against a competitve fleet of yachts.  Hosted by the King Island Boat Club in Grassy Harbour, the race is famous for it's late night hospitality with cold drinks and hot steak sandwiches made from local beef. We are hoping for live entertainment depending on the arrival time of competitors, so anchoring for a while and coming in to say hello is a must.  [ ... ]

King Island....beautiful one day and simply perfect the next

2018 King Island  Well it's been exciting from the very begining, starting earlier in the week when the Race Director Simon Dryden made the call to move the start time from 2.30am to 1.00am.  Unfortunately with such light conditions in the few hours leading up to the start, a further review of the race start was required, as light winds and current were presenting challenging conditions to get outside of the heads.  In a first ever move, the race startline was moved to off Ocean Grove.   The start was problematic for the rear of the fleet, missing the winds which wer [ ... ]

More Articles